We are very happy to introduce another one of the 3 artists, whose work was featured at the set 0: the urge to get out. Meet Karolis Keturka, our dear friend, a hiker, and a nature photographer.
Karolis was born in Lithuania and currently is based in Bø i Telemark, Norway, where he captures the beautiful nature of the Northern Europe. He travels on foot in day and night to reach the most astonishing sights and natural phenomena. Besides, Karolis is a nature guide and an aurora hunter, sharing his passion and knowledge about the natural world with other nature fans. You can see Karolis’ photography as postcards here.
We met Karolis online and asked him about his passion for photography and nature:
Hi Karolis, it has been a tough year for all of us. How did a strong quarantine measures affected your activity as a nature photographer and guide? Do you have an urge to get out?
Well, I could say that this outbreak affected me negatively as a guide and positively as a photographer. On the one hand, we had to stop our Northern lights season earlier, and I had to forget all my plans about guiding for a while. From another hand, it was a good motivation to learn some new skills and to set new goals. I feel I have improved my photography skills a lot in the last year. Especially as it made me settle down in Norway, and I could spend more time capturing its beautiful nature.
Yes, I do have an urge to get out. I always have – that made me move to Norway in the first place. The main difference from many people, I still can get out. I live in a tiny town surrounded by beautiful nature, and I can go on hikes, camping, photo trips whenever I want without leaving my home. I am almost a year here, and I still can’t get enough of it. I still feel like traveling without leaving home.
You have worked as an aurora guide in the far north. What motivated you to move so far north? Was this an ‘out of the comfort zone’ experience? Did you learn anything about yourself and others during this time?
I was drawn to the north because of my desire to try myself as a guide and my wish to get closer to nature, to fell how phenomena like polar night can impact my life. And yeah, it was a bit ‘out of the comfort zone’ experience, but in a different way than one could imagine. I had to deal with constantly changing weather conditions, extreme weathers, darkness, cold temperatures, snowfalls, but all of that was still in my comfort zone. The hardest part for me was to learn how to do my best at work. The northern light guide job requires a lot of skills and puts a lot of expectations on you. You need to know the area and micro-climates there well to make good decisions. Besides, you need to know about night photography, photo editing, be confident in driving at night.
I have learned a lot about myself during these years. I have met many inspiring people, many biologists, and photographers, who were seeking their goals. It made me realize that the boundaries of what you can do in your life are even bigger than I expected. It made me realize that every challenge, every hard night, every mistake teaches you something and brings more confidence in the future. In that way, it gave me more confidence in myself when I need to make decisions in an unpredictable environment.
What is inspiring/motivating you as an artists and what values you try to portrait in your work? How long does it take from the idea to the final picture? Do you plan your photographs in advance?
Hmm, that’s a tough question. Frankly, I can feel speechless with my photos sometimes, as I shot them not to share some deeper meaning, but only because I enjoyed the process. But other times, I can run into beauty, and I want to share that beauty with others.
I find quite often that the technical part motivates me a lot. I can spend a lot of time searching for the “perfect” composition. Besides, I try to know my gear well and to use it to its full potential. Also, I always try to learn something new in my editing process.
I like to challenge myself in photography. I look, for example, to shoot people facing some challenges on hikes, like extreme environmental conditions or obstacles. Also, I like to search for some interesting perspectives. I had a chance to shoot an ice climber recently, and I wanted to get above her to show how it looks from the top. Therefore, I had to use some ropes to lift myself.
I am starting to plane more and more of my photography in advance. I can use different tools to do that, for example, weather forecasts, maps, applications that show sunrise and moon rise directions. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it does not (those moments I can learn something new).
The time gap between the idea and the final shot can vary a lot. It can happen the same day, or I may need to wait for a particular phase of a moon or another season.
For example, I had a vision of a night photo of one waterfall in my mind from the last autumn. I tied to shoot it, but it was too dark. Therefore, I had to wait for winter, snow, and moonlight.
You hike a lot in the North of the Europe. Do you take most of your photographs ‘accidentally’ while hiking or do you hike to a specific location that you know in advance to take a picture? What is your dream destination/natural phenomena to photograph?
It can go both ways. I don’t travel much at this time, but I try to explore my surrounding as well as I can. I like to hike a lot with my friends, and I do take some shots on those hikes. Sometimes I even make a hikes goal to scout a new location for some future photos. Besides that, I always try to imagine what kind of environmental conditions could make that place more interesting and come back there later.
One of my current dream destinations could be Gaustatoppen. It is the highest mountain in my county, and it’s only 3 hours away. However, I haven’t been there yet. It should look impressive from the bottom, and it should be possible to see 1/6 of Norway from the top.
What do you think about postcards as a physical medium for spreading awareness on the topic? Have you ever received a postcard that made you think about it for a while?
I do believe that the story of the postcard can add value to it. For example, when I buy postcards for my friends, I try to find ones produced by local artists. In that case, I can give a taste of the place and support the locals.
My favorite postcards hang on my wall and remind me of my friends. I have got one postcard recently that was made to support a wildlife rehabilitation center, so it brings even more meanings for me.